A picture of a Rubber Tree

Rubber Tree

Hevea brasiliensis

Also known as

Rubber Plant, Pará Rubber Tree

Hevea brasiliensis 23 by Vinayaraj (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Full Sun
Moderate care
Moderate watering
Tender

13b

USDA zone

18°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

40m

Max

12m

15m

Min

8m

10 years to reach maturity

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a strong fragrance

More images of Rubber Tree

Hevea brasiliensis 21
Hevea brasiliensis 14
Hevea brasiliensis 13
Hevea brasiliensis 16
Hevea brasiliensis 03

Rubber Tree Overview

Hevea brasiliensis is a deciduous tree native to the Amazon rainforest and is one of three species within the Hevea genus that are the primary sources of natural rubber. A milky latex leaks from the bark of a Rubber Tree when damaged. Indigenous tribesman use this liquid to waterproof clothing, canoes and shelters and it is now a substantial source of income. Europeans became interested after the invention of air-inflatable rubber tires kicked off the Rubber Boom. Seeds were smuggled back to the UK and then spread out to British colonies bringing about the commercial planting and harvesting of rubber plantations in parts of Asia, which is now the primary producer.

Common problems with Rubber Tree

When growing in its native environment, this tree is susceptible to South American Leaf Blight, Microcyclus ulei. However, when grown overseas, it is generally pest and disease-free.

    How to harvest Rubber Tree

    When the tree has reached 15 cm in diameter, approximately six years old, the white latex can be collected from the tree. Slice a single grove 6mm (1/4 inch) deep into the bark of the tree, spiralling downwards around half of the trunk. Peel back the bark to create a tapping panel which will allow the latex to run into a container suspended under the cut. Collecting is best done in the cool of the evening or early morning as heat can make the latex coagulate. Once the wound has sealed over, the opposite side of the trunk can be harvested.

    How to propagate Rubber Tree

    Grafting

    Commercial plantations use bud-grafting to propagate.

    Seed

    Use fresh seed and grow in partial shade, until large enough to plant out. Stored seed loses viability and may not germinate.

    Other uses of Rubber Tree

    Raw material

    Rubber production

    Latex from this tree is refined and used in many products for its waterproofing, stretch and resilience properties.

    Furniture

    Plantation trees are felled around 25 years of age when the natural production of latex declines. This wood was previously burnt ; however, it is now used in the manufacture of furniture.